San Jose community supporting mobile pan dulce business after van stolen, crashed

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
SJ community supporting mobile pan dulce business after van stolen
For more than 30 years Zeledons Bakery On Wheels has served Mexican sweet bread in San Jose. But after their van was stolen and destroyed, community members and even famous comedians are donating to bring the mobile bakery back.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The popular pan dulce van in San Jose was stolen and destroyed and now members of the community are donating to bring the mobile bakery back.

For more than 30 years Zeledons Bakery On Wheels has served Mexican sweet bread in San Jose.

There are trays in the back of the van conveniently ready for you to choose from.

Juan Carlos Soto and his nephew Ernesto Botello commute from Los Banos to San Jose six days a week. They rent out space where a team bakes the bread. They sell for an hour in Los Banos and drive to San Jose where they sell pan dulce from Noon - 11 p.m. in front of businesses that range from non-profits to big companies like eBay.

Thereza Chattmon, VP of Business Development Solutions at employment agency SlingShot Connections, wanted to partner with a small and local business for a community event with her company.

VIDEO: East Bay student musicians collaborate to help Oakland School for the Arts after instrument thefts

Students from different East Bay schools came together to help Oakland School for the Arts after $30,000 worth of instruments were stolen.

Chattmon said Zeledons was the perfect candidate.

"Really an energized group that brings everyone together and makes everyone happy," Chattmon said.

After lunch hours, Zeledons cruises through neighborhoods.

Think of it like an ice-cream truck coming to your door. April Flores, who lives in east San Jose, said the pan dulce van goes to her neighborhood at least three times a week. She took a TikTok video in 2021 that went viral with more than 5 million views.

MORE: SF bakery stabbing suspect had history with owner and owner's father, court documents show

"It just brings back a lot of memories of when you were younger and that excitement that we felt," Flores said.

On Sunday, the beloved pan dulce van was stolen in Los Banos. Within hours, the uncle and nephew duo received a call from CHP that their mobile business was destroyed from a rollover.

"It's like my partner for so many years, and it's like that's how I get my income so it just hit me really hard," Soto said.

Soto had the van since 2007. If he ran into any issues he would post about it on social media and people would offer to help, but Soto said they could always handle it. This time is different.

They created a GoFundMe to raise enough for a down payment on a new van and replace damaged equipment. Soto said he's moved by strangers and people they've met in the community who have donated.

VIDEO: SF community helps reunite owner with stolen dog found near Golden Gate Bridge

A German Shepherd was stolen from her owner in San Francisco. Social media and the SF community helped find her near the Golden Gate Bridge.

"This time seeing it, like we really do need the help and them really helping it hit us hard because sometimes not even your own family members tell you like here's 10 bucks, you know," Soto said.

The comedian Gabriel Iglesias, otherwise known as Fluffy, donated $4,000 dollars.

Ernesto Botello, who has been working from the mobile bakery since he was straight out of high school said that was amazing.

"That's a really big amount of money and I thanked him and he replied back and he just said 'Man, I need some conchitas from you. I need some bread from you' I said 'For sure we can get that going,'" Botello said.

So far there's nothing but support to get a small business like Zeledons back on the road.

"I just think it's important to support them and help keep them going they've done a lot of good for the community," April Flores said.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live